In this time of dealing with the novel coronavirus (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)) also known as Covid-19) it is also a time of wondering how the devotions to Hermes and Hestia are needed more than ever.
Yes, plague is in the domain of Apollon and Artemis, but that is not my focus today. What is my focus is how Hestia and Hermes (who often are looked at in tandem as in the Homeric Hymn to Hestia where there is a switch mid-hymn to Hermes) work together in these days of Covid-19.
Hestia is a Goddess who fosters community and Hermes is known as a God whose domain is communications in all forms. Even when we are needing to do what is called “social distancing” in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, humans are — as a general rule — social animals. During times of crisis, we generally want to gather in groups to deal with the crisis in a communal setting — exactly what we are not supposed to do right now if we want to preserve both our own health and that of our neighbors.
So how do we bridge the physical divide? That falls into the realm of Hermes (and a “found”/modern goddess, who I feel is a formerly unacknowledged daughter of Hermes named Kyberia whose domain is the internet). In today’s world we have myriad ways of communicating with people over a distance. We have letters, which our ancestors also had, but we also have telephone — which allows us to hear each other. We have the internet, which allows for us to have our words reach a large audience (assuming we have one — or people spread our words to their network of connections). We even have — through the internet or on modern cellphones — the ability to do video chats where we can both see and hear the people we are in contact with.
Because they are not physical, but “virtual” forms of contact, Hestia is needed within these contacts — because one of her gifts is the empathy needed to identify with other people’s troubles (and to celebrate joys from a distance). They work in tandem with what is being called “social media” where their domains overlap (and also overlap with Kyberia’s domain of the internet) in order for us to have the connections we need during a period where those connections are being strained and stretched to their limits.
Although these are not all of what these deities do, but just a few things, they are something that can be important to communities right now — especially when those communities are already small or scattered.